Governing body confident that new bike checks mean mechanical doping is no longer a problem

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If recent drugs scandals weren’t enough, Mark Barfield, the UCI’s technical manager has admitted that the use of motorised bikes, otherwise known as mechanical doping, may have occurred in WorldTour races prior to the introduction of checks.

However, Barfield said that although mechanical doping may have been a problem in the past, he doesn’t believe that any top-level team is currently cheating in such a way.

>>> Fresh ‘motorised doping’ claims as Ryder Hesjedal’s bike ‘moves on its own’

“I’ve done a lot of work in the past 10 month on this. I’ve spoken to a lot of engineers. I’ve tested 75 bikes this year for motors. I don’t believe any current WorldTour rider or team would be currently cheating on a product like this.”

In an interview with Australian website Cycling Tips, Barfield said that the reason that he doesn’t think mechanical doping is currently a problem is the introduction of improved testing by the UCI, which saw Chris Froome’s bike being tested for a motor at last year’s Tour de France.

Cancellara kept Andy Schleck in the front group on the cobbles. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

Fabian Cancellara has had to deny accusations that he used a motorised bike to win Paris-Roubaix (Photo: Yuzuru Sunada)

And that testing is set to continue into next season, with the UCI introducing an improved method that will see commissaires able to check a greater number of bikes over a greater number of disciplines. But Barfield isn’t willing to give too much information as to how that testing will be done.

>>> Chris Froome welcomes latest bike checks in fight against mechanical doping

“All I can tell you is it’s based on magnetic resistance. There is a lot of work to be done. We’ve done our first trial and we have more trials in February. Its first outing, fingers crossed, will be the World Cyclocross Championships.

“The testing we will have will be so easy to use that every commissaire will be able to use it. So [testing] will be able to go on far beyond the WorldTour races.


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“We’ll probably do our first test in women’s racing next year because we need to extend. We now have the ability to test more bikes more often.”

Claims about mechanical doping first came to light in 2010, when Fabian Cancellara was accused of having ridden a motorised bike while taking victories in both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

Since then there have been persistent rumours and accusations of mechanical doping in the pro peloton, with Alberto Contador having to deny rumours of using a motorised bike to win this year’s Giro d’Italia, and Movistar also having to fend off a social media storm at the Vuelta a España after being accused of “hiding” a broken motorised bike.

  • Fraser

    Barfield stated in the article that they’d be testing at the 2016 Cyclocross world Championships Women’s race and now it appears they may have identified there very first mechanical cheater. Are the teams really that stupid?

  • bowwow rapha

    Two put downs on one page. Yes, you are a joke and how deaf hook do you manage so well at being stuck in fupid?

  • Spokes_123

    no mention of any evidence in this article just speculation.
    no mention of any team found to have mechanical doped.
    no mention of any individual rider found to be mechanical doped.
    no mention of any mechanic found to be supplying mechanical doping.
    who needs facts when the internet is involved.

  • Stevo

    Grow up. It was a joke.

  • Jay

    How sad and pathetic do you need to be to nick pick other posters over typos and grammatical mistakes?

  • Stevo

    You are irrelevant. And you should learn to spell.

  • Stevo

    Commented on by people with dodgy grammar.

  • bogusdogs

    Cyclists have always been “tough.” Abusing their bodies in all sorts of ways…over fatigue, injuries, drugs, crashes, risks…all of it. This “mechanical doping” seems to go against all the ways that this working class sport has tried to get ahead. It really has nothing to do with abusing the body.

  • Warren Elsom

    Really?What BS! Wow then as a Tour photographer who puts in more time and more km than crew, then am I on something too? Use your big brain before writting drival like this

  • AMck

    When riders start wearing leathers and knee pads it will all become too obvious until May the force be with you ! I think this whole thing was started by some unhappy journo to take the P***

  • Dick_Turpin

    You can fit all sorts of stuff inside a disc wheel though. Anyone with a mind, skills and equipment to do so can create a ‘doped’ disc right now with everything internal and nothing at all on the outside to give it away.

    The only thing that might potentially give it away would be the prerogative to prevent the hub axle rotating in the dropouts. Although I’d imagine a very tight skewer would be sufficient to take care of that.

  • Jay

    Cycling is a dodgy sport ran by dodgy officials.

  • My experience at big stage races suggests that everyone in the support crew is using something to keep up with the incredible demands of time and energy. But only the riders get tested.

  • maprun

    They exist and are relatively cheap, but tricky to fit, just google it.

  • It’s an appalling thought, that a team, would or could, even consider, using this deception. The repercussions, and need for secrecy, isn’t that far removed from a doping program, but still, we know it’s mechanically possible to conceal a motor, but who would dare?

    Though it does offer some potential comical material, for various witty types, regarding “mechanical doping excuses”

    ps anyone know what and why, “Danielson positive test” remains a “non story” amongst the cycling media?
    He could have served another fake suspension, in the time it’s taking, to not reveal anything!

  • Jay

    On the sentiment side, kind of sad really why athletes and teams would cheat to win. Money and glory. Glory and fame.

  • Dan Robertson

    A human is really pathetic in terms of power output compared to a motor in a vacuum cleaner. 40w would make the difference between a champion and and a decent pro. This 40w motor would weigh around 20 grams using Dyson motor technology, a bespoke motor would be even smaller.

    A mobile phone battery would be able to power such a motor for around 15 minutes easily enough to make a big difference in a race.

  • Eric Channing
  • J1

    There’s no conspiracy theorists? Everybody knows it was just momentum.

    I was pointing out that he usually gets mentioned on here when there’s a hint of mechanical doping.

  • TURFHUGGER

    I’ve seen Motorized Doping mentioned a few times but never anything that shows a bike and the motorized components, could this be on your things to do in 2016? When doping is covered there is an exhaustive explanation on how it’s done, how it works, etc, etc. Why not for this?

  • Roby

    …don’t you think that if ‘mechanical doping’ even remotely existed and produced such a small hidden motor in a bicycle that its inventors would become instant millionaires if they launched it commercially because we lesser mortals would buy these by the millions and fit such superb motors to our daily commute two wheeled jalopy!!! Guys… please do not believe all you read ok!! I secretly wish this were true…very time I ride uphill !!!

  • nightfend

    Sorry Hesjedal conspiracy theorists, there is no e-motor technology small enough to fit on a back wheel and have it look like a normal bike. If there is motorized doping, it will be connected to the cranks/chainset.

  • Darren Barratt

    Being as they’re all using carbon bikes, an xray machine would stamp this out straight off?

  • J1

    The Ryder spinning bike is CW’s favourite though!

    I did used to wonder what the hell Cancellera had for breakfast sometimes though, he rode like a machine some days.

  • ummm…

    Eh, Cancellara is by far the more famous case. The Hesjedal thing was not the decisive break to win PR. Although I comprende what you’re saying.

  • ummm…

    I have no problem believing that even the soigneurs dope. You can come up with any sort of fanciful doping story and I’ll believe it because of history/common sense/bias. However, I could never really wrap my head around MECHANICAL doping. It is so extreme. It is one thing to train your behind off and dope to enhance some abilities, but you still have to put the watts down and feel the pain. Mechanical doping allows the rider to not even make the effort!!!! That is disturbing, and the fact I see a difference between the two (mechanical vs chemical) may be disturbing as well.

  • J1

    No mention of Hesjedal in a motorised bikes article!?